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You are about to read one extraordinary woman’s life story. It is taught in high schools and universities throughout this country and has been translated into several languages.


Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.  –Goodreads

Watch Ms. Angelou’s mini bio.

Ms. Angelou’s autobiography is based on the poem “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.



Use the following sites to locate information about Maya Angelou. No one site will contain all of the information, so it will be necessary for you to search more than one. Try to state your answers in complete sentences; however, you may use lists when appropriate


1. When and where was Maya Angelou born?

2. What is her birth name?

3. In addition to being a poet, what other roles has Maya Angelou played?

4. Identify prestigious awards she has earned.

5. What organization did Martin Luther King, Jr. request that she head?

6. To which council was she appointed by then-President Jimmy Carter?

7. When did Ms. Angelou die?  How old was she?

8. What appointment was she awarded in 1981?

9. What honor was she awarded in 1993?

10. How many books has she written? Name five.

11. What else has she written?

12. Identify the number and names of languages that she speaks.

13. Locate some of her poetry. Read a few poems, and download your favorite. Write a sentence or two expressing why you like it.

14. Find a quotation that you like, and write a journal response to it.

15. Write one thing that surprised you about Ms. Angelou.